Wiggins spread the Word across Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2005

Elder Charlie J. &uot;Preacher Man&uot; Wiggins Sr. saved many a soul in his day.

Wiggins, a long time member and senior elder at New Mount Joy Food for Living Ministries, died March 5 at age 63. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at the County Street church.

Wiggins took his ministry far beyond the walls of the church, touching lives and saving souls throughout the city for decades.

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Over the years, Wiggins, who retired from Planters Peanuts after 35 years, spread God’s word to the sick, elderly and incarcerated. For several years, he was a chaplain for Obici Hospital and a held weekly worship services at Hampton Roads Jail.

But Wiggins was most visible – and will be most missed – by the crowd who gathered outside the Red Barn, a convenience store on the corner of Pinner and East Washington streets, on most Saturday nights, weather permitting, to hear his message.

&uot;He touched so many lives…by getting the community involved in his street ministry,&uot; said Lenita Wiggins, whose husband is a family member of Wiggins. &uot;He was a unique person of faith…and he believed in what he was doing with his whole heart.&uot;

He will be missed, said Red Barn owner Axay Patel

&uot;His death is a big loss for this community,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’ve always looked forward to his being out there on Saturday nights…and there were always a lot of cars outside when he was here.

&uot;He used to come out here like clockwork every weekend.

He always preached a message that people…should live a peaceful, happy life.&uot;

Wiggins’ son, Charlie Wiggins Jr., also an elder at New Mount Joy, intends to carry on his father’s legacy at the Red Barn.

&uot;With my Dad gone, I’ve got to walk in his footsteps,&uot; Wiggins said. &uot;He always wanted the ministry to go on after his death.&uot;

The congregation of New Mount Joy is missing Wiggins, said Bishop William Wiggins, who is also his uncle.

&uot;He had a great impact on the church…he brought quite a few souls to church,&uot; Bishop Wiggins said. &uot;&uot;He was a happy-go-lucky person…who was friends with most everybody.&uot;

Charlie Wiggins Sr. was ordained by Bishop L.E. Willis of New Frontier Church of God in Suffolk. But he was a born minister, Bishop Wiggins said.

&uot;When he was a little boy, he would be out there preaching under the tree,&uot; he recalled. &uot;It was in him long before he was ever called to the ministry.&uot;